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The Ends of the World Audiobook

The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions

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Publisher's Summary

As new groundbreaking research suggests that climate change played a major role in the most extreme catastrophes in the planet's history, award-winning science journalist Peter Brannen takes us on a wild ride through the planet's five mass extinctions and, in the process, offers us a glimpse of our increasingly dangerous future.

Our world has ended five times: It has been broiled, frozen, poison gassed, smothered, and pelted by asteroids. In The Ends of the World, Peter Brannen dives into deep time, exploring Earth's past dead ends, and in the process offers us a glimpse of our possible future.

Many scientists now believe that the climate shifts of the 21st century have analogs in these five extinctions. Using the visible clues these devastations have left behind in the fossil record, The Ends of the World takes us inside "scenes of the crime", from South Africa to the New York Palisades, to tell the story of each extinction. Brannen examines the fossil record - which is rife with creatures like dragonflies the size of sea gulls and guillotine-mouthed fish - and introduces us to the researchers on the front lines who, using the forensic tools of modern science, are piecing together what really happened at the crime scenes of the Earth's biggest whodunits.

Part road trip, part history, and part cautionary tale, The Ends of the World takes us on a tour of the ways that our planet has clawed itself back from the grave and casts our future in a completely new light.

©2017 Peter Brannen (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (93 )
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  •  
    aaron los angeles, CA, United States 06-15-17
    aaron los angeles, CA, United States 06-15-17 Member Since 2017
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    "A Kid's Science Book FOR ADULTS!!"

    This is about as good as it gets, in terms of appealing to your inner five-year-old child that LOVED dinosaurs, while still making the logical, rational adult side of you happy.

    Brannen tackles the 5 major extinctions that the Earth has experienced with the flare of a Vonnegut, while maintaining the scientific details of a Dawkins. This is a monumentally hard task, but he does it deftly. His research, descriptions, and attention to detail of the plants and animals interspersed between these cataclysms was remarkable.

    After listening to more than a few dry, boring, repetitive science books, this was one I embraced like the warm sun after a cold winter's night.

    The narrator was spot on as well.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter 08-12-17
    Peter 08-12-17 Member Since 2013
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    "very interesting, and balanced"

    this book was not as dogmatic as I expected based on the summary. It is balanced and interesting, giving a good perspective on our world.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sly 10-17-17
    sly 10-17-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Fantastic!"

    Love the perspective it creates. It's really good at painting different scenarios of how things comes to a end and keep changing through out time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Amazon Customer 10-02-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Amazing book, puts you in a profound perspective"

    The narration is just not good. This guy is 1 step above Fred Sanders, but still just has such an overt voice-over cadence, emphasis, I just really don't like the voice it was read in. Sounds like a movie preview, not a friend reading you a story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew P Madurski 09-25-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Solid history lesson"

    A very interesting historical review of Earth's long geological lifespan, accessible to anyone with a basic understanding of science and a curiosity about Earth's dynamic evolution.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bret Lewisville, TX, United States 09-22-17
    Bret Lewisville, TX, United States 09-22-17 Member Since 2003
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    "Title is misleading"

    This book is really about modern day global warming, not the past. He only uses past global geological history as a comparison.
    Really makes it harder to follow. He constantly interrupts a description of the past to make a comparison or to make a commentary on the present.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    Alec Drumm 09-22-17
    Alec Drumm 09-22-17
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    "Eye opening account of past catastrophes"

    I loved this book. At times it is very grim, but the ability of life on Earth to regenerate itself after total or partial annihilation is very uplifting. You realize that the timescales of geology and evolution are on the order of tens to hundreds of thousands of human generations. When an extinction event occurs (and it can be very sudden such as the asteroid impact at the end of the Cretaceous period) there is no hope for any exposed species.

    The author sets the current 6th extinction into context, making it clear that it is small compared to the earlier extinctions in terms of biodiversity lost. Also, the level of carbon dioxide in past eras fluctuated widely along with Earth's temperature. As did sea levels and arctic ice conditions.

    I had two takeaways from this book. First, humanity needs to either develop the ability to control CO2 levels in the atmosphere, or develop a resiliency towards future climate changes.

    Second, for humanity to truly survive mass extinction events, we must develop the ability to colonize other planets. However, that is firmly in the realm of science fiction and will be for a long time to come, if it will ever happen.

    Hopefully we will be able to come together and develop technologies that allow us to manage our climate, in time to keep the CO2 level in the atmosphere not much higher than today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Goosebottom 08-30-17
    Goosebottom 08-30-17 Member Since 2015
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    "A very disappointing performance"

    I would not have thought it possible to over-act a nonfiction book, but it is! You have to suffer swallowed words and a smarmy tone to get to the interesting material -- or go buy the physical book.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ARG 08-31-17
    ARG 08-31-17 Member Since 2008
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    "good but bit melodramatic"

    Learned a lot, strength was on details around extinction events. Author did go bit overboard on the global warming message. Get it but yeah what to do ... which is a bit beyond the scope of the book

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aztex Desert Southwest 08-01-17
    Aztex Desert Southwest 08-01-17
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    "Reactionary Alarmist Nonsense"

    If one knows ANYTHING about the Big 5 mass extinctions you'll also KNOW that the current man made "environmental crisis" (if one must few it that way!) is in no way shape or form even approaching the level.

    Further these extreme extinctions were dilute in the life of man scale (save for the Kt impact event). The Siberian Traps (responsible for Permian extinction) were 1 million years long!

    Seriously I could not get through the first chapter. I don't know if this theme is carried throughout the book but it is enough of an absurd preface I found it difficult to invest time or money into this fiction.

    Too bad modern science since Sagan have had to play imaginary iconoclast and build non existent facades they feel they must shatter. It's a sign of cheap science, sensationalism when not needed. If you can't be amazed by the simple fact of this planet and need this bombastic approach have at it.

    2 of 23 people found this review helpful

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